The Parent Trap in Job Interviews

This article may be a real eye-opener for you. I encourage you to take a few minutes and read through it. As a single father of a special needs child, I understand the challenges that parents face with the work-home balance. When my wife passed away unexpectedly in 2012, my daughter was just 2 years old. I was fortunate to have a job that worked from home, but it involved regular travel out of town.ย  My employer at the time was very reasonable and understood my situation. I was fortunate to work with many great people, and I had my wife’s family to help with my daughter when I needed to travel. We pieced it together to make it work, but it was not easy.

No matter where I’m employed, my primary job is still being a father to my daughter. I’m quite sure there are employers or hiring managers that see only the priority of work and not the priority of being a mom or dad first. I have experienced this first-hand in the past and so have other members of my family. The statistics in this article clearly show that moms or dads who choose to stay at home with their children find it twice as difficult to get back into the workforce compared to somebody that was unemployed due to job loss. Translation: employers are discriminating against parents who intentionally choose to make caring for their children their full-time job for a period of time. It’s hard to say whether these potential employers are consciously making this choice or if it’s subconscious, but the statistics clearly show it is happening. So what do we do about it, if anything?

I accept that there will always be employers that get their priorities backward – that don’t share the importance of family as the priority. They may not admit it, but there are indeed hiring managers that choose to stay away from job candidates who have schedules that make it impossible to work once they are home. But as a society, we need to make certain that our workplace culture is one that allows a parent the opportunity to stay home to care for their children without fearing they will not be able to find a job if they choose to seek employment again. We need to have these conversations at the policy-making level, being certain that employers understand that being a stay-at-home parent IS a full-time job in itself. We need to remind folks that there are skills you acquire as a parent that can never be acquired in the workplace and that maintaining the proper work-home balance often leads to a more successful and satisfying career than focusing only on their job.